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Paul Coates -- Confidential File, January 28, 1959

January 28, 2009 |  2:00 pm


They Lost -- They Were Lucky

Paul_coates The Baumans, mother and daughter, had dinner at 9 o'clock last Sunday -- not an unreasonable hour when you're relaxing in a pleasant coastal resort likeBaja California's Rosarito Beach.

But now, looking back, they're more than a bit sorry that they didn't skip the meal, head back for the U.S. border, and turn in early.

Miss Lorraine Bauman, 34, and her widowed mother, Mrs. Katherine Bauman, 63, both of Santa Rosa, were among the unfortunate many seized by Mexican federal police in the resort's gambling casino that night.

But they had their good fortune, too. So far they're the only Americans who have been released following the raid.

"We've been released outright, I guess," she told me by telephone from Chula Vista last night. "Right now, we're busy trying to contact relatives of some of the people who are still being held."

1959_0128_mirror_cover I asked Miss Bauman, who is owner of a gift shop, how she and her mother happened to be caught in the raid.

"After we finished dinner," she replied, "we were told that we could go into the gaming rooms if we just filled out a card. Why not, we decided.

"After we filled them out, we were directed into a room where there were a bunch of blackjack tables. I was going to leave right then."

"Why was that?" I asked.

"I only like to shoot craps," she answered. "Then a man told us there was another room with crap tables. I've played before at Las Vegas, so after going in and watching a while, we each bought $20 worth of chips.

"Do you know," Miss Bauman told me, "that when those men came charging in, I'd built my bankroll up to $110, and that Mother had hers up to $80 or $90.

"When those men broke in with shotguns and machine guns, I thought they were bandits. It was about 15 minutes before I saw a man in uniform and knew what was happening."

"How were you treated?" I asked.

1959_0128_page "For the first two hours they wouldn't let us women go to the rest room," she said. "The men had to wait longer. About four hours. It's already been in the papers about not getting anything but toast and coffee to eat and about how they took our possessions.

"But, on the whole, after the initial shock, they treated us very well, I'd say."

Doctor Was Helpful

Then she continued: "Especially, my mother and I. One of the other prisoners was a doctor from Tijuana, and he was extremely helpful in convincing the soldiers that my mother, who's a diabetic, should have her nerve pills back and get her insulin shot."

U.S. Vice-Consul Joseph Cicala also was helpful, she added. "It was because of my mother's health that we were released, I'm sure."

"Did you get all of your possessions back?" I asked.

"When we were let go, they told us to pick out what was ours from a pile on a big table," she said. "But when we checked the wallets we had in our purses, they'd been cleaned out. More than $800 between us, we had.

"When I asked the young interpreter about our money," she explained, "he just smiled.

"He said, 'Aren't you glad you're being released?'"

Miss Bauman sighed heavily.

"I suppose I'll never see it

"And to think," she added wistfully, "I almost came home a winner for the first time in my life."